Man who lost his son to suicide encourages others to be upstande - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Man who lost his son to suicide encourages others to be upstanders and not bystanders

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NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - They say the loss of a child is the worst pain a parent can feel.

The guest speaker visiting with parents and students at Springfield Local Schools can certainly attest to that.

In 2003, John Halligan got a phone call no parent ever wants to receive. His son Ryan had taken his own life.

In the days following his passing, the family looked for answers. They eventually found them on their own computer. Ryan had been bullied at school and online for more than two years.

"We felt a lot of anger, a lot of rage and I have to give credit to my wife. She put me on a more productive path of trying to deal with this in a way that would honor his memory," said John Halligan.

Before Ryan's death, Halligan worked for a computer company. Now, he travels the country sharing his son's story.

"It was a little surprising that some people would bully him that much," said Lindsey Druschel an 8th grader at Springfield Intermediate School.

"A lot of people don't take this as seriously as they really should because it can really hurt people," said Jake Ford an 8th grader at Springfield Intermediate School.

Principal David Malone says there are about a dozen reported cases of bullying each year at Springfield Intermediate. However, he expects more and he hopes John's message of "Don't be a bystander. Be an upstander" hits home.

"It takes more than just the school to just make a difference with kids. It takes strong parental involvement, but it also take the students themselves to understand what they are doing is wrong," said Springfield Intermediate principal David Malone.

"We are never going to solve this problem unless students start standing up to each other and start correcting each other," said Halligan.

Halligan will speak with parents and students over the age of 10 at 7:00 p.m. Thursday at Springfield Intermediate and again to students in Poland on Friday.

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